MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Prof. Dr. Michael Roden
Director, German Diabetes Center (DDZ)
Leibniz Center for Diabetes Research
at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf
Chair/Professor, Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases
Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf
Director, Department of Endocrinology and Diabetology
University Hospital Düsseldorf
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: The prevalence of obesity, type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) continue to increase at an alarming rate. Their occurrence has been associated with intake of saturated fats, for example that of palm oil. This study aimed to shed light on how dietary fat initiates metabolic changes which lead to the aforementioned diseases. To this end we provided 14 young healthy volunteers an oral dose of palm oil or placebo randomly, in a crossover manner, with an 8-week washout period between each intervention.
One acute dose of palm oil leads to insulin resistance in the main insulin sensitive tissues of the body: the liver, skeletal muscle and adipose tissue. In the liver, it also results in increased accumulation of triglycerides, increased production of glucose from lipid and amino acid precursors (rather than from glycogen), and increased energy metabolism, as denoted by increased hepatic adenosine triphosphate (ATP) content. Moreover, a similar experiment in mice revealed that one dose of palm oil differentially regulates genes and pathways which are known or suspected regulators of NAFLD, such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS), members of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) family and nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B-cells.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Even just one dose of pam oil has immediate effects on the metabolism, which to some degree resemble states typically found in insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and NAFLD. These metabolic disturbances are likely temporary thanks to the metabolism’s remarkable ability to adapt. Nonetheless, after sustained and repeated exposure to similar toxic nutrients, the body eventually loses its capacity to adapt, paving the way for the development of chronic disease.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: Future studies should address the effects of other types of nutrients including non-saturated fats and proteins or amino acids, in order to rule in that these metabolic changes we found in this study are in fact due to the composition of palm oil per se, as opposed to the number of calories being administered alone.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: This study used state of the art techniques and highlights the importance of the composition of the food we eat. Since the point of no return at which the metabolism loses its ability to compensate the metabolic effects of toxic nutrients remains unknown, limiting the intake of such nutrients as much as possible is essential for the maintenance of metabolic health.
This study was funded by the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Research of North Rhine Westphalia, the German Federal Ministry of Health, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and grants from the Helmholtz Alliance to Universities: Imaging and Curing Environmental Metabolic Diseases, the German Research Foundation, the German Diabetes Association and the Schmutzler-Stiftung. Funding was also provided by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology, as well as through structural funding for the Center for Neurosciences, the European Regional Development fund, the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology and by the Rede Nacional de Ressonância Magnética Nuclear.
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Elisa Álvarez Hernández, Sabine Kahl, Anett Seelig, Paul Begovatz, Martin Irmler, Yuliya Kupriyanova, Bettina Nowotny, Peter Nowotny, Christian Herder, Cristina Barosa, Filipa Carvalho, Jan Rozman, Susanne Neschen, John G. Jones, Johannes Beckers, Martin Hrabě de Angelis, Michael Roden. Acute dietary fat intake initiates alterations in energy metabolism and insulin resistance. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2017; 127 (2): 695 DOI: 10.1172/JCI89444
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